Attendee blog about Harwood Institute at Public Library Association Conference

PLA Conference 2014
Sara Gills
March 18, 2014

I recently attended the Public Library Association Conference in Indianapolis. There was a series of sessions on the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative of the American Library Association and the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. The initiative is based on the vision of “turning outward,” shifting our focus from an inward institutional viewpoint to an outward community-based view.

What struck me most about the ALA/Harwood approach is that the goal is first and foremost to have libraries play a role in bringing diverse groups of people together to work together and determine shared community aspirations – not necessarily related to library service.  Librarians and library staff may not even lead these collaborations, but can help create the conditions for it to happen. As a result of hearing community aspirations, a library can reflect these ideas in library service planning, or share the information with relevant community organizations.  It’s all about the library’s role in being an agent of community change.

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